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Health

Health Insurance Marketplace Seeks Citizenship Confirmation From 1,800 Kansans

Federal officials are sending notices to more than 300,000 people — including about 1,800 Kansans — warning them that the health insurance plans they bought on the federal online marketplace will be revoked unless they provide documents that resolve "data inconsistencies" with their citizenship or immigration status.

A news release from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said the supporting documents must be received by Friday, Sept. 5, or those whose status is in doubt will lose coverage at the end of the month. CMS administrator Marilyn Tavenner said her agency had attempted to contact the 310,000 people in question and would continue to do so through Friday's deadline.

“Since this is an urgent matter, we are activating our networks on the ground to reach people directly in the communities where they live," Tavenner said. "Whether it is online, via our call center, or with one of our local partners, consumers will have a number of ways to find the help they need to continue their coverage."

Officials from the insurance marketplace and CMS said the inconsistencies do "not necessarily mean there is a problem with an individual’s eligibility for enrollment."

"It means that additional information is needed to verify the information provided in an application," a CMS news release stated. "However, if these supporting documents are not received, health insurance plans will be terminated in order to ensure program integrity and protect taxpayer dollars."

The Kansas Association for the Medically Underserved received a grant to train "navigators" to help Kansans sign up on the online insurance exchange that opened last year.

Katrina McGivern, communications coordinator for KAMU, said some navigators have been contacted by Kansans who received notices that they need to provide more documentation and are working with them to get that resolved.

But McGivern said it's not possible for KAMU or the navigators to be proactive in finding and contacting more of the 1,800 Kansans in question.

“The tricky part is that our navigators aren't allowed to keep any information on the consumers," McGivern said. "So we can’t follow up with people.”

The federal marketplace, created by the Affordable Care Act, is open only to U.S. citizens or lawful immigrants. The news release said that in May about 970,000 of the marketplace's 8 million enrollees had submitted applications "with citizenship or immigration data-matching errors."

The news release said errors included submitting a Social Security number or Permanent Resident Card number that is "incomplete or different than the information the government has on file."

Since May, CMS has resolved about 450,000 of the errors and is processing documentation for about 210,000 more. That leaves about 310,000 still awaiting documentation.

The requirement to supply extra documentation applies to about 1,800 Kansans and 4,900 Missourians.

Tavenner said those who have received a notice that their immigration data has inconsistencies can call the CMS helpline at (800) 318-2596 to see what documents they need to submit, or visit the Find Local Help page at healthcare.gov.

"We want as many consumers as possible to remain enrolled in Marketplace coverage," Tavenner said, "so we are giving these individuals a last chance to submit their documents before their coverage through the Marketplace will end.”

Online enrollment for 2015 plans on the health care marketplace begins Nov. 15.

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